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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Urban Zen and Industrial Feng Shui on the Highline

The Highline was originally built between 1929-1934 to lift food-laden trains off the streets to warehouses and factories in what was then the largest industrial district of Manhattan. Eventually phased out, (the last train ran in 1980), the elevated structure was abandoned, covered in graffiti and became a somewhat impromptu 'museum' of discarded beer bottles. (Volunteers found garbage and junk dating from several decades ago).

Now, it has been re-purposed into a very cool public park. The Ipe wood used on the High Line was chosen for its longevity and durability. The High Line's plantings are inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the out-of-use elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after the trains stopped running. It looks like a lush, wildflower path gone rogue.

Depending on what time of day or week you choose to visit, the park can be overrun with tourists, or a an organic runway of Manhattan chic. Double width lounges allow you to overlook the Hudson river. A stretch under a hotel allow you to converse with the hotties at the Standard. (Be a dear and make sure you don't show up with fanny packs and cheap sneakers please...keep New York beautiful).

Need some art? For Spencer Finch’s "The River That Flows Both Ways" he snapped 700 photos of the Hudson River and crafted a glass pane to match the color of each shot’s center pixel. (First photo).

The layout of the benches, plantings, rails all have a very feng shui sensibility. The overall flow is relaxing and smooth. Benches come from curved beams leading up to the seat. Plantings are staggered into the curves. My chi-loving mother would love it. For more on the design, check out their site.

As of July, there are five entry points, at Gansevoort, 14th, 16th, 18th and 20th Streets, with elevators at 14th and 16th Streets. Park hours are 7am–10pm.

Photos by JakeRome, Dror7, Miss Pior, Marie Ray and David Berkowitz from Flickr's Friends of the Highline Pool.

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